Neil Toye says Wednesday evening’s Donegal Minor Championship final is the biggest in the history of Naomh Pádraig, Iskaheen.
After a fine win over Naomh Columba in Wednesday’s semi-final, the Ture boys head into Wednesday’s meeting with St Eunan’s as the underdogs – but that suits Toye and company just fine.
Jonathan Toye, the manger’s son, hit 2-5 in last week’s win over Glen and these are unchartered waters for the border club against red-hot favourites St Eunan’s.
“Getting to a county Division 1 final is one of the greatest achievements for any club in Inishowen,” Toye says.
“I know Buncrana have won the minor final before, but we’re a relatively new club.
“The boys will go into the game with their heads up, no doubt about that. We’re taking nothing for granted. In 20 years’ time, this St Eunan’s will go down as one of the best underage teams. They’ve won Ulster at Under-16 level and they’re just serial winners.
“Win, lose or draw, our boys have done themselves proud. Hopefully they’ll all raise their game and come 9.30 on Wednesday, who knows – we could find ourselves going down the road with a cup.”
Naomh Pádraig contested a League final three years ago at under-16 level, but lost to Naomh Conaill.
They did win a Division 2 title three years ago in the under-14 grade.
“That was one of Jim McGuinness’s games,” Toye laughs. “It finished 5-3 against Gaeil Fhánada in O’Donnell Park!”
Naomh Padraig have been working hard at underage level and have added some newcomers to their ranks. They include Aidan Ferns, originally from Scotland, who came in at under-14 level. Ferns is back in contention for Wednesday’s final having missed the quarter-final win over Carndonagh and the semi-final win over Glen.
Shane McColgan has played for Donegal at Under-16 and U17 level, while Jonathan Toye has been in the Donegal minor panel and Caolan McColgan was on the Donegal Under-16 panel this year.
It is a young squad overall, with Caolan McColgan and Ciaran Harkin, for example, still playing under-16s.
“We have a good team here,” the manager says,
“We found the new format of the groups worked in our favour this year. That Northern Board section was so fiercely competitive and we always encountered MacCumhaills and St Eunan’s. It was so hard to get past them.”
As luck would have it, they were paired with MacCumhaills in the group stage, but overcame them in Ture. A draw in Dungloe and a win over Naomh Conaill at home sent them into the knockout phase.
And here they stand: An hour away from the club’s greatest hour.
Toye says: “I would say biggest game of the club’s history. Although this is ‘only’ minors, it’s Division 1. Our seniors were in Junior finals, but this is the top of the tree at this level.”